Too much FinTech in the Nigerian tech space is clearly not enough fintech. The tech space gets a new addition every now and again but few are distinguished in the value chain.
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With the growing pool of companies seeking investment from VC’s in the private equity space at home and abroad, those who end up getting funded usually have a different edge to them that is unique than others. Abeg may have captured the imagination in this form and this has become even more apparent in the past few weeks.
The idea behind Abeg is simple (try looking past its amusing and surprisingly endearing name) –that people can send and receive money without having to paste their account numbers everywhere.
If you are conversant on social media in Nigeria, it would not be difficult for you to understand how quick people are to paste their account numbers when soliciting funds. As unsafe as it can be, most people still do that. Abeg seeks to replace account numbers with its Abeg tags and while this may not have caught on yet, the idea of it is truly intriguing.
You may wrongly presume that the idea behind Abeg is new but if you had been paying attention, you will know better. OPay, for instance, had a feature that allowed users to request funds but that never quite caught on. OPay’s own feature did not require a tag, however. It required the phone number of your contact list.
Abeg, on the other hand, requires a unique tag or phone number on your contact list. So in a manner of speaking, Abeg’s founders may be gaining traction where it was previously thought unlikely.
The Abeg tag may be the most innovative solution yet in Nigerian FinTech yet. According to its co-founder and CEO, Dare Adekoya, the goal was to make transfers possible in just three clicks, but for it to really take off, the start-up would need to gain critical mass in users in the way start-ups like Piggyvest (who are believed to be investors in Abeg) and Risevest have.
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This may explain its furious growth drive in 2021 most recently evidenced in its product placement and sponsorship on some of the most popular TV shows in the country.
Founded by Dare Adekoya, a former UX designer at Sterling Bank, Muiz Akanni who was a programmer for Prospa then and Michael Okoh who formerly was backend developer at Hotels.ng.
Abeg’s B2C/peer-peer payment model is not very common as most of the big hitters have cut their teeth in the B2B/B2G space which has helped guarantee rapid growth. In an economy with falling income and rising living costs, FinTechs are finding it increasingly difficult to achieve their aims in the first place. Abeg does not particularly solve the problem, but it presents another way to soften its growing pains.
Giveaways will always be a trend on social media and it appears that even in name, Abeg has attached itself to that culture. Abeg is the pidgin word for “please” evolved from “I beg” in English.
Twitter has been an important tool in the company’s growth strategy as it amassed some 5000 users from that platform within a week of its launch. But now in the bid for aggressive growth and perhaps armed with new capital from investors, Abeg is seeking massive customer acquisition through more conventional means.
Its sponsorship of Multichoice’s show may have raised more than a couple of eyebrows especially knowing how much it costs to acquire those rights- over a billion naira by most accounts. Abeg has also repeated Betway’s trick of hiring DonJazzy (otherwise known for his huge influence as a pioneer music producer in modern Nigeria) from last year. The hope is that it will see its user base expand so much as to secure more investment, one presumes.
In the immediate term, it seems to be working. Abeg seems to have transcended the confines of tech Twitter into NG Twitter’s mainstream. Abeg tags may become a thing among young people soon enough at this rate.
Featured Image Source: Abeg
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